Learn With the Mesdames Part 3: The Accidental Teacher

This continues our series by Mesdames who teach. This month we feature Mme. Sylvia Warsh, who writes about her experiences working with seniors. Sylvia is the author of the Dr. Rebecca Temple series. Her novel Find Me Again won an Edgar award. Her short story, The Emerald Skull, featured in Thirteen, (Carrick Publishing) was nominated for an Arthur.

 

 

How did you become a teacher?

I never intended to teach, and at the start, had to be persuaded. I had inadvertently become the facilitator at the Forest Hill Writers who met Saturday mornings at the Forest Hill Library in the 1970s, then moved to Barbara Frum Library for the ‘80s and ‘90s. This was a workshop group of a dozen or so who read their work aloud, and sometimes devolved into tangents and conversation that, though interesting, would divert us from the feedback we all wanted. I must have been the most impatient one, because at some point, I began asking people to move along and became the de facto facilitator.

A lovely older woman named Cecile Jackson, who was part of that group, told me that she also attended a creative writing class at a seniors’ centre and that their teacher was leaving. She asked me if I wanted to apply for the job. I told her I was a writer, not a teacher and I wouldn’t know what to do. She said I was already doing the same thing at our meetings and that I would be fine.

Tell us how your teaching career evolved.

The Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living turned out to be a lively place with a hands-on coordinator who was committed to keeping the creative writing class going. I had to become an employee of the Toronto District School Board and eventually join a union.

I spent a lot of time preparing lessons and finding anthologies from which the students could read good stories to see what they were aiming for. We would spend part of the three hour class time taking up their assignments and part studying a story. After a while, the Wagman Centre at Baycrest and the Overland seniors centre asked if I could take over their writing classes.

For my first 15 years of teaching, a fair number of Holocaust survivors came to my class, wanting to write their memoirs. These were remarkable people who had been through hell and wanted to be witnesses to what they had seen and experienced. Six of them went on to publish books. Demand has fallen since then, the down side of teaching seniors who are more prone to illness and mobility issues; three hours have become two. I have lost many students over the years, and I only teach at the Betel centre these days.

What is a typical class for your seniors?

Mostly, people come to the class in order to keep their minds active. Work out their little grey cells. I don’t lecture in class, but run it as a workshop. I give a short lesson on various points of writing: how flaws make a character real in a story, or how to jump right into the action at the beginning of a piece, or the pros and cons of different points of view. Then I assign an exercise for them to work on at home.

Most of the class is taken up with the students reading his/her assignment out loud, then discussion with feedback. If someone brings poetry, I ask them to bring copies for everyone so they can better understand and critique it. Some people will bring in longer prose and give me a copy which I mark up while they read.

I’m always on the hunt for interesting books on writing from which I can glean tips for future lessons and assignments. I have found over the years that though talent is innate, writing skills can be taught. People’s writing will improve if they are willing to work at it.

What have been your biggest rewards in teaching?

My greatest satisfaction comes when a student says they’ve learned a lot in my class. In the process of teaching various aspects of writing—having to break down lessons into sections on character, setting, point of view, dialogue, use of strong verbs, etc.—I have learned along with them. I used to write by the seat of my pants, but now I have a better idea of where the controls are.

Some of my students have been with me for 20 years. I have heard all about their families and their childhoods from their writing and I feel great affection for them. Many have met with tragedies, have lost siblings and babies when young, and in their elder years, spouses. Yet they carry on and entertain themselves (and me) with their writing. I’ve learned that each person is a unique library of experiences and knowledge that will never be reproduced. Each person has something important to say.

 

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Mesdames on the Move -March 2017 – An Update

130926-scary-catCALLING ALL NEW CRIME FICTION AUTHORS!

Only 5 days to submit your crime fiction story to 13 Claws. The deadline for submissions by authors previously unpublished in crime fiction is March 15, 2017.  Check the tab on this website for submission rules!

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Mme Lisa De Nikolits shares the details on her upcoming salon event at Mt. Pleasant Library on Thursday, March 30th at 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

And earlier on the same day, Mt. Pleasant Library, one of the Mesdames’ big supporters, celebrates its 25th anniversary from 2:00 to 6:00 pm with an open house and refreshments!

Good things all happen at once and on the same day we have the first new book launch of 2017 in Ancaster. See below!

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FIRST NEW BOOK OF 2017!

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The Mesdames are delighted to announce the first new book of 2017, The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter, by our Queen of Comedy, Melodie Campbell.

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

Mel’s launch will be held on Thursday, March 30th at the Ancaster Branch of the Hamilton Public Library, 300 Wilson St. East, Ancaster, at 7 pm. This will be a fun evening with readings and a prize for best mob costume.

Mel is a great supporter of adult literacy and all the book sale proceeds will go to the Hamilton Literacy Council. This is a fabulous event not to be missed!

 

READINGS AND EVENTS!

Spring is definitely in the air with lots of events and readings this month.

Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy

Catherine Dunphy

Cathy Dunphy

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 7th, 7 pm  – Mmes M. H. Callway, Lisa De Nikolits, Catherine Dunphy, Rosemary McCracken and Lynne Murphy visit the St. Lawrence Branch of the Toronto Public Library at 171 Front St East for readings and a panel discussion.

Thursday, March 9th, 2 pm – Mme M. H. Callway gives her workshop on How to get Published at Wychwood Branch, TPL, 1431 Bathurst St., Toronto.

Jane Petersen Burfield

Jane Petersen Burfield

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M. H. Callway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, March 16th to Sunday, March 19th – Mmes. Jane Burfield and M.H. Callway will be attending Honolulu Havoc, Left Coast Crime 2017 in beautiful Hawaii!  They are both delighted with their panel assignments. Friday, March 17th, Jane will be on the short story panel, Compact and Powerful. Saturday, March 18th, Madeleine will be on the thriller panel, The Gorgeous Outdoors, Rugged and Dangerous.

 On Thursday, March 16th, Jane and Madeleine join fellow Canadian crime writers  Cathy Ace, Robin Donald, Marilee Robson and Loreth Anne White in hosting an author – reader event celebrating CANADIAN crime fiction!

They promise a write-up of their fun and celebrations when they return from the tropics.

ALOHA!

 

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LEARN WITH THE MESDAMES PT.2: Scary Stuff, Kids! Tips on Talking to Schoolchildren

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CALLING ALL NEW CRIME FICTION AUTHORS!

The deadline for submissions by authors previously unpublished in crime fiction  to 13 Claws is barely a month away on March 15, 2017.  Check the tab on this website for submission rules!

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M. H. Callway

M. H. Callway

This week, Mme M. H. Callway reports on her latest adventure: presenting her thriller, Windigo Fire to a classroom of Grade 8 students. You have to stay scared to stay sharp. Here she shares some tips on staying ahead of the class!

How did this adventure come about?

Our good friend, Steve, approached me about doing a talk at his son’s school.  I said yes then thought: what did I just do? What’s scarier than facing sixty 13-year-olds trapped in library class. Well, erm, nothing!

 Steve’s son, Francis, had picked my novel, Windigo Fireas his Canadian novel for his school book report. His English teacher, Ken, read it and loved it – and so did some of Francis’s classmates. When Ken  invited me to meet his students to talk about my book and the life of a writer, I couldn’t say anything but YES!

12000831_10154197942864018_1649104801334232488_oI was a little worried that I might be playing Officer Stodenko to Ken’s Sister Mary Elephant (see Cheech and Chong in Wikipedia, younger readers), but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had as an author. Good thing though that I could draw on my experience as a retired management consultant doing focus groups, seminars, sales pitches, etc. and winning over skeptical clients.

 

 

 

Here are some observations and tips for the unwary author embarking on their first school talk:

  • Kids are smart, Marv!

Remember how Harry and Marv, the two bungling burglars were outwitted by 8 year old Kevin in the movie comedy, Home Alone? Because the burglars thought kids were stupid. Do not underestimate the tough, intelligent and insightful questions kids will throw at you. They have no qualms about asking you how much money you made on your book, why you write for so little money, why you let publishers tell you what to do, why you don’t just self-publish and so forth. 

Tip: Be prepared for hard-nosed questions and have your answers ready!

  • Break the ice early!

There’s nothing worse than a disinterested audience. Silence is deadly. Kids are shy at first. After all, you’re a grown-up and a figure of authority. I broke the ice right away by asking the class who wanted to be a writer. Who was working on a book right now? It didn’t take long to unleash a flood of questions.

Tip: Break the ice by asking about their writing. And ask about their favorite books.

  • It’s all about respect!

From the kids’ point of view anyone over 25 is O-L-D. At the same time, kids respect anyone who really knows their stuff, is confident and doesn’t talk down to them. Assure the kids that you value their opinions and that you consider every question they throw at you to be a valid one.

I found that making the session an interactive one worked really well. Lectures don’t work in our digital world where attention spans are short. I bled the info out to them by answering “long” to certain questions like: “Who decides what your book cover will look like?” And occasionally, I tossed a question back to them.  For example, they asked “How did J. K. Rawlings get rich?” So I asked them what they thought. It surprised them that they already knew the answer. (Hint: It’s movie rights.)

Tip: Try to answer every single question. A challenging question often leads to a good discussion.

Tip: Make the session interactive and keep the lecture part short.

  • Learning is a 2-way street!

You will learn as much from the kids as they do from you. I learned that they read almost exclusively on I-pads. E-readers are passe, but printed books are still cool.

I never dreamed that Windigo Fire could work as a YA read, but the kids loved it. But then I realized that my protagonist, Danny is young and my second protagonist, Rachel is a 10-year-old kid. To my surprise, their favorite character was Santa, one of the villains. I really enjoyed giving Santa a hard time when I wrote the book – he fails at driving a Prius and he’s outfoxed by Rachel – and the kids did, too.  It was a no-brainer which section I chose to read to them.

Tip: Keep an open mind and you will be happily surprised by what you will learn.

Tip: Give students a choice about which pages you read.

  • The teacher is your best friend!

One reason my visit worked so well was because of Ken, the teacher. We planned the session together and he kept things moving by throwing in a comment or a question. Teachers can also rein in some of the more extroverted students.  Ken is working on a children’s book so it was great to meet and exchange information with another writer.

Tip: Plan your visit with the teacher beforehand.

At the end of my talk, the students presented me with a wonderful card they had all signed and a keepsake globe. A new world really awaits.

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Students card

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Mesdames on the Move February 2017

Friday, Feb.3  Speed Dating for Writers and Librarians !   

The Ontario Library Association will be holding its Super Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. West. A bevy of Mesdames will be appearing during the Crime Writers of Canada event beginning at 1:00 p.m. Mesdames M. H.  Callway, Lisa de Nikolits, Melodie Campbell and Rosemary McCracken will each have two minutes to tell the librarians about their  most recently published books or  novels in the works. Let’s hope many successful relationships ensue.

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M. H. Callway

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa De Nikolits

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Claws is Coming!

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A friendly reminder about our contest for previously unpublished crime writers. The deadline for entries is only six weeks away on March 15, 2017.   See this website for submission details.

The winner or winners will have their stories published in our upcoming third anthology, 13 Claws.

 

Readings and Events!

Sunday, Feb. 19th, Lisa de Nikolits will be taking part in the prose reading series, Junction Reads, at 392 Pacific Ave., Toronto. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. Lisa will be reading from her latest book, The Nearly Girl.

Thursday, Feb 16th  Two great events are happening on this date and several of the Mesdames will be in attendance at both.

Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter welcome award-winning author, Kelley Armstrong creator of five supernatural series and a new crime fiction series, featuring Casey Butler. Meeting at Northern District Branch, TPL, Room 200, 40 Orchard View Blvd., 7 pm. There is a $5.00 charge for non-members.

The first 2017 Noir at the Bar Toronto takes place at 7 pm at the Wallace Gastropub, 1954 Yonge St at Davisville. Features readings by six leading crime writers, including Peter Rozovsky, the founder of Noir at the Bar who is visiting from Philadelphia.

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Learn With the Mesdames No. 1

Over the next few months we will be publishing a series of blogs from Mesdames who write and also teach writing. This month we feature our Queen of Comedy, Mme. Melodie Campbell, author of the Goddaughter mysteries.

 

Vegetables for Authors – or Why I Teach Writing

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

It all started in 1992. I’d won a couple of crime fiction awards, and the local college came calling. Did I want to come on faculty, and teach in the writing program? Hell, yes! (Pass the scotch.)

Over the years, I continued to teach fiction writing, but also picked up English Lit, Marketing (my degree) and a few odd ones, like Animation and Theatre. Such is the life of an itinerant college prof. (Pass the scotch.)

Twenty-four years later, I’m a full-time author. Except for Wednesday nights, when I put on my mask, don a cape, and turn into SUPER TEACH! (Okay, ‘Crazy Author Prof.’ Too much time alone at a keyboard can be scary. Pass the scotch.)

Why do I do it?   As another term lurks ever nearer, I decided to ask myself that question. And give a completely honest answer. Here goes:

  1. It’s not the Money

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime? Part time profs in Canada are poorly paid. I’m top rate, at $45 an hour. I’m only paid for my time in the classroom (3 hours a week). For every hour in the classroom, I spend at least two hours prepping and marking. We don’t get paid for that. At end of term, I spend several days evaluating manuscripts. We don’t get paid for that either. This means I am getting paid less than minimum wage. So I’m not doing it for the money.

2.   It’s not all those Book Sales

I found this alarming, but other authors since then have said the same. They teach a workshop and students beg for feedback on their manuscripts. But they don’t buy the teacher’s books. Not even one. I find this bizarre, because I would want to see how the instructor practices what she preaches. Bemusement aside, I’m careful in my classes not to pressure students in any way to buy my books. They’ve paid money for the course and that’s enough. My point is: if you think by teaching a course, you are going to get an avalanche of book sales, think again.

Years ago, an author gal more published than I was at the time said a peculiar thing to me:  “Aspiring writers don’t buy books.”

So why the heck do you do it, Mel? That’s time you could invest in writing your own books…

 

3.   It takes me Back to First Principles

I teach all three terms. Every four months, I am reminded about goal/motivation/conflict. Three act structure. Viewpoint rules. Creating compelling characters. Teaching “Crafting a Novel” forces me to constantly evaluate my own work, as I do my students’. It’s like vegetables for authors. In other words, good for me.

4.   It’s the People

As well, you meet people from different professions…doctors, lawyers, salesmen and women, bank officers, government workers, labourers, grad students, Starbucks baristas, roofers, police, firefighters, chefs, paramedics. I have my own list of people to call on when I need to do research.

Getting to know people other than your own crowd (in my case, other writers) is extremely valuable for an author. You’re not merely guessing how others different from you may think…you actually know people who are different. This helps you create diverse characters in your fiction who come alive.

By far, the most valuable thing about teaching a night course year after year is it allows me to mix with people who would not normally be part of my crowd. Adult students of all ages and backgrounds meet up in my classrooms, and many are delightful. I’ve treasured the varied people I’ve met through the years, and keep in touch with many of them.

5.    It’s good for my Soul

No question, my life is richer through teaching fiction writing, even if my bank account is not.

Students take my writing course for all sorts of reasons. Some take it for a college course credit. Some take it for interest, as they might take photography or cooking classes. Some need an escape from dreary jobs, and a writing class can provide that escape, if only temporarily. But many actually do hope to become authors like I am. And when I connect with one of them, and can help them on their way, it is magic. There is no greater high.

Melodie teaches Crafting a Novel at Sheridan College in Oakville. Courses start in September, January and April. Here’s the link. 

And you can help Melodie’s bank account by buying her humorous books, like The Goddaughter Caper. This will keep her from writing dreary novels that will depress us all. Pass the scotch.

More good news from Melodie!

Join me and the Hamilton Literacy Council on March 30th for the launch of Book 5 in the award-winning Goddaughter Caper series, THE BOOTLEGGER’S GODDAUGHTER! Celebrate more antics of Gina and Nico, in this multi-award-winning series set in Hamilton. Details of the launch to come.

And here’s the teaser:

Do old mobsters ever really retire? Not in HAMILTON!

When a transport truck full of unidentified booze is hijacked, Gina and Nico work feverishly to keep the latest bungled family caper under wraps. But the police are closing in. And once again, everything points to the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home in THE BOOTLEGGER’S GODDAUGHTER.

 

 

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Mesdames on the Move-Jan. 2017

It’s 2017! How did that happen?

Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy

The Mesdames of Mayhem are getting back to work after a holiday break,  teaching classes, appearing on panels and encouraging the public to read more books.  We hope everyone gave and received lots of books this year. If not, we have suggestions for you–just go to our blog of November 30th, 2016 HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE MESDAMES.

Several of the Mesdames have new books coming out this year. In February, Mme Melodie Campbell will launch the latest book in her fabulous comedy series,  The Bootlegger’s Goddaughter (Orca Books) followed by Worst Date Ever in September. (Also by Orca Books) Mme Lisa De Nikolits is finalizing the edits on her thrilling new book with Inanna Publications, No Fury Like That.  And Mme Caro Soles will be bringing out a new novel later this year. More details in our upcoming blogs.

130926-scary-catWe’re very excited that the Mesdames third anthology, 13 Claws, will be published by Carrick Publishing in September.  To encourage new authors, we have a contest for writers previously unpublished in crime fiction. The winner(s) will have their story published in our anthology. For contest rules, click on the above tab on this website.

This year promises to be a busy one with Bouchercon 2017 hosted here at home in Toronto and many upcoming appearances by the Mesdames. Meanwhile here’s where you can see and hear the Mesdames this month.

Tuesday, January 10th

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

Mme Rosemary McCracken,  is once again teaching her class,  Novel Writing II: How to Develop Your Novel at George Brown College, beginning Tuesday, January 10th. Mme. Rosemary writes the popular Pat Tierney seriesRaven Lake is her newest. To register follow the link here.

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Lisa at Albert Campbell Local Authors Night

Also on January 10th, at 10 am, Mme Lisa de Nikolits, whose most recent book, The Nearly Girl, has received great reviews,  will be interviewed by Fran Lewis at 10 a.m. on her program  “Books”. To hear the podcast follow the link here.

 

Thursday, January 19th

Another busy day for the Mesdames!!

Mme Lisa will be appearing in Peterborough, Thursday, January 19th as part of a program called Women Write the City, at Theatre on King, 159 King St.  at 7 p.m. There is a charge of $10 or pwyc.

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D. J. McIntosh

D. J. McIntosh

In Toronto, on the same day,  January 19th, at 7 p.m. Mme D.J. McIntosh will be part of a panel called “The Suspense is Killing Me” at the regular meeting of the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Meetings are held at the Northern District branch, TPL, 40 Orchard View Blvd. Dorothy is the author of the highly successful Mesopotamian trilogy. Mme. Lynne Murphy will be moderator for the panel and the other participants are writers Steve Shrott and Jennifer Soosar. There is a five dollar charge for non-members of SinC.

 

Monday, January 23rd

dsc_7588Monday, January 23d, Mme. M.H. Callway will present her workshop on “How to get Published” at 6 p.m. at the Pape/Danforth Branch, TPL, 701 Pape Ave., Toronto.

Madeleine is also embarking on a new adventure on January 19th when she will be meeting fans of her debut thriller, Windigo Fire, at James Robinson Public School in Markham, Ontario.  Students have studied her book in English class as an example of Canadian literature.

 

 

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WOW! 2016 What a Year!

FABULOUS EVENTS!!

The Mesdames sponsored and attended numerous book launches, readings and public events in 2016.  Our highlight of the year was Sept 25th at Word on the Street, Toronto’s classic book fair in support of writers, readers and literacy. We had our booth for the first time, WB 12 in Writer’s Block. These photos show what a great time we had meeting readers and selling our books!

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M. H. Callway and Catherine Astolfo

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Rosemary McCracken and Catherine Dunphy

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Lynne Murphy, Sylvia Warsh, Catherine Astolfo

Altogether the Mesdames had ELEVEN new books published and nearly half a dozen short stories in the anthologies, Black Coffee, Pac ‘N Heat and the latest Sisters in Crime, The Whole Shebang 3. (For details on our latest books and stories, read our Christmas blog, Happy Holidays from the Mesdames.)

New books meant lots of book launches.

A big highlight was the April 28th launch of our Queen of Comedy, Melodie Campbell’s latest mob crime comedy, The Goddaughter Caper.  We had great fun dressing appropriately for the occasion as you can see in these photos below. Over 50 people attended and $400 was raised for the Hamilton Literacy Council.

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Especially touching was the thank you speech given by the winner of the costume contest, top photo, centre, next to Melodie.  She singled out the Gina Gallo series for giving her the gift of reading.

catA big hug and our even bigger thanks go to Sleuth of Baker Street, our favorite bookstore, for their longstanding support of Canadian crime writers and books by the Mesdames of Mayhem.  On June 25th, when many might have spent the Saturday afternoon at the cottage or the beach, a crowd of well-wishers packed the store to celebrate Rosemary McCracken’s latest Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake.

On November 6th, Rosemary Aubert, M. H. Callway and Donna Carrick filled the store to capacity for their fabulous Trifecta launch  of their short story collections, The Midnight Boat to Palermo, Glow Grass and Other Tales and North on the Yellowhead.1-triple-release-nov_6-16-web

The three authors are delighted to report that they each sold out their supply of books that same day – and had to order more for their readers!

On November 27th, Lisa De Nikolits, Lynne Murphy and Ed Piwowarczyk were among the authors who attracted another sold-out crowd to Sleuth for the launch of the  Toronto Sisters in Crime’s latest anthology, The Whole Shebang 3.

 

 

READINGS, READINGS, READINGS!

The Mesdames gave dozens upon dozens of readings as part of our group, through the Crime Writers of Canada and as individuals.  We’re especially proud of Rosemary Aubert, who was the featured speaker at the January 30th annual Blue Carbuncle Awards dinner of the Bootmakers, the Toronto Sherlock Holmes Club.

We’re equally proud of Melodie Campbell, who on June 17th was the Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker at the Ontario Literacy Conference, Mohawk College, Hamilton. Promoting literacy is Melodie’s passion: be sure to read her Christmas blog about the hardships faced by people who have difficulty reading and writing.

Lisa De Nikolits toured the Maritimes and Newfoundland to promote her new book, The Nearly Girl, where she was a guest at the Saint John FogLit Festival and had a wonderful stay at the author’s retreat at the National Water Centre. Read more about her adventures in touring here.

We owe a huge debt of thanks to our hard-working librarians in Toronto and the GTA for their support of Canadian crime writers and the Mesdames of Mayhem.

Ghodsi Danesh, of the Mt. Pleasant Branch, hosted the Mesdames twice this year on March 8th and on October 18th. And we look forward to our follow-up event next April!

Another big highlight was the reading organized by librarian Maria Samurin of the Albert Campbell Branch as part of the series, Authors Nights.

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M. H. Callway

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Jane Burfield, Lisa De Nikolits, Rosemary Aubert

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rosemary McCracken

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Ed Piwowarczyk and Sylvia Warsh

 

 

 

 

Seven of us read to a packed auditorium of enthusiastic readers and writers, many of whom belong to the Scarborough Scribblers. It was a privilege to be able to share our collective knowledge and experience with such a supportive audience.

The Mesdames were also invited to be part of the Burlington Heritage Fair on February 6th, celebrating the Suffragettes in Canadian History.  M. H. Callway, Melodie Campbell, Rosemary McCracken and Joan O’Callaghan were honoured to represent the Mesdames.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS!

Several of us received positive, formal recognition of our work in 2016. Lisa De Nikolits’ 2015 book, Between the Cracks She Fell, won the  IPPY Bronze Medal for Contemporary Fiction.

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M. H. Callway’s suspense novella, Glow Grass, was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella.

D. J. McIntosh’s fabulous conclusion to her Mesopotamian trilogy, The Angel of Eden, was nominated for the prestigious International Thriller Writers award for Best  Paperback Original Novel.

Caro Soles and her co-editor, Nancy Kilpatrick, received a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology for their Poe-tribute story collection, nEvermore.

Cheryl Freedman continues her wonderful work to promote and sustain light mysteries through the annual  Bony Blithe Awards – the mysteries that make us smile. Submissions closed on Dec 15th and we look forward to learning the shortlist early next year!

And finally a BIG THANK YOU to all our readers who made 2016 another wonderful year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE MESDAMES!!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE MESDAMES!

 

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thgxg59qkpThis year, 2016, was another terrific year for the Mesdames with several new books and short stories published! We love our readers – we wouldn’t be here without you. There’s no greater reward than hearing: “I loved your characters – I couldn’t put your book down.”

9tjnbotbsbSo, dear readers, this holiday season, do give books! The gift of reading is a gift like no other: it’s a dream, a passion, an escape and a gateway to new and wonderful worlds.

catWe’d like to give a special thanks to our favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street! A big hug to Marian, J. D. and of course, Sir Percy, for their support of the Mesdames and Canadian crime fiction. You will find most of our books there and Marian will be happy to order for you if the title is out of stock.  Other places to find our books: Chapters / Indigo, Amazon and of course, the Toronto Public Library!

 

GREAT READS FOR YOU!!

Cathy Astolfo

Cathy Astolfo

Operation Babylift 51-mLHZtRDL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_is Arthur Ellis winner, Cathy Astolfo’s latest book in the Kira Callaghan series. (Imajin Quickies).

When Florence gives up her spot at ReVisions Retirement Residence and is found dead, retired journalist Kira Callaghan and the Flower Pots have no choice but to investigate! And the solution goes back to a forgotten incident during the Vietnam War.

 

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Rosemary Aubert

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The Midnight Boat to Palermo (Carrick Publishing) features short crime fiction by Arthur Ellis winner, Rosemary Aubert. These beautifully crafted stories range from comedy to noir. The gripping title story is a must-read and an AE winner.

 

M.H.Callway

M.H.Callway

51idvcyka8l__aa160_Glow Grass and Other Tales (Carrick Publishing) includes two novellas as well as 7 short crime stories by Arthur Ellis finalist, M. H. Callway. They  range from comedy to noir suspense; many are winners or finalists of awards, like the Derringer and the Bony Pete.  Includes this year’s AE novella runner-up, Glow Grass.

 

Melodie Campbell

Melodie Campbell

caperThe Goddaughter Caper (Orca Rapid Reads) is the latest Gina Gallo mystery by our Queen of Comedy and Arthur Ellis winner, Melodie Campbell.

A body shows up at Gina’s uncle’s restaurant and then in the trunk of Gina’s car. Wouldn’t you know it, her elderly relatives at the Holy Cannoli Retirement Home are involved – up to their scrawny necks! Gina and her cousin, Nico, The Lone Re-arranger, have to put things right.

 

Donna Carrick

Donna Carrick

14424815_10155212645404018_9205120793088655572_oNorth on the Yellowhead (Carrick Publishing) features short crime fiction by author, publisher and Arthur Ellis finalist, Donna Carrick. Her dark and thought-provoking stories in this new collection include the Arthur Ellis nominee, “Watermelon Weekend”.

 

 

Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits

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The Nearly Girl (Inanna Press) is the latest book by Ippy winner and tour de force, Lisa De Nikolits, who also designed the cover!

This dark comedy pokes fun at modern-day psychotherapists, group therapy, dysfunctional families, quirky friends and relatives –  and how our set-upon heroine emerges  from it all.

Earlier this year, Lisa together with friends Marilyn Riesz and Gilean Watts, published the cookbook, Bake Your Way to Happiness which pairs delicious recipes with life strategies to nourish your body and spirit.

 

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary McCracken

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Raven Lake (Imajin) is the latest book by Arthur Ellis finalist, Rosemary McCracken and the third book in her popular Pat Tierney series. Pat, an ethical financial advisor, uncovers more than one nasty scam while trying to take the summer off in cottage country.

Earlier this year, Rosemary showed her dark side, when her story “Crazy” was reprinted in the noir anthology, Black Coffee.

 

D. J. McIntosh

D. J. McIntosh

Dorothy McIntosh - The Angel of Eden COVER

Dorothy McIntosh’s third book in her Mesopotamian trilogy, The Angel of Eden, was nominated for the 2016 ITW award for Best Paperback Original novel.

Be sure to read this thrilling adventure and the other books in the John Madison series: The Witch of Babylon and The Book of Stolen Tales.

 

 

Lynne Murphy

Lynne Murphy

Ed Piwowarczyk

Ed Piwowarczyk

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Lynne Murphy, Lisa De Nikolits and Ed Piwowarczyk all have stories in the latest anthology by Toronto Sisters in Crime, The Whole She-bang 3, launched just in time for the holidays! The book features outstanding stories by 16 Sisters (and two Brothers) in Crime.

 

Joan O'Callaghan

Joan O’Callaghan

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Early this year, Joan O’Callaghan published her late husband, J. Patrick O’Callaghan’s memoirs: Maverick Publisher, J. Patrick O’Callaghan, A Life in Newspapers (Carrick Publishing). Editing was done by our Monsieur, Ed Piwowarczyk. An award-winning teacher, Joan has also updated her teaching guide, Amazing Days (Carrick Publishing) now available as an e-book.

Jane Petersen Burfield

Jane Petersen Burfield

Caro Soles

Caro Soles

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Caro Soles and Nancy Kilpatrick are the editors of nEvermore, a critically acclaimed Poe tribute anthology, featuring the works of established authors such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Jecks and Barbara Fradkin. nEvermore was a finalist for this year’s Bram Stoker award and Robert Lopresti’s story, based on the “Murders in the Rue Morgue” will appear in Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery Stories. Jane Burfield’s  gothic tale has been singled out for very positive reviews.

And last but not least, sample our writings in our two anthologies, Thirteen and 13 O’clock!

 

 

 

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

Annual Holiday Party!

The Mesdames will be celebrating with fellow crime writers at the Crime Writers of Canada and Toronto Sisters in Crime Holiday Party to be held at Pauper’s Pub, Toronto on Monday, December 5th at 6 pm. For information on tickets, visit the SinC website: http://www.torontosistersincrime.ca/holiday.html

13 Claws Contest!

130926-scary-catCalling all writers new to the crime fiction genre! You are invited to submit up to two stories for inclusion in our upcoming anthology, 13 Claws. For submission rules, follow this link: https://mesdamesofmayhem.com/13-claws-contest-submission-rules/

 

 

 

Bony Blithe Award – A Reminder from Cheryl Freedman!

Cheryl Freedman

Cheryl Freedman

Forget the ubiquitous countdown to Xmas! The deadline for submissions to the 2017 Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe Award) is much earlier and is fast approaching. We must have your submission(s) in hand by December 15, 2016.

 If you’re (a) an author with a light mystery published in 2016, and (b) a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can submit your book. The award consists of a lovely colourful plaque…and a cheque for $1000!

Your novel must be at least 60,000 words long and published between January 1 and December 31, 2016. No YA or noir please. Your book can be traditionally published, indie-published, or self-published. We welcome submissions from both authors and publishers.

Light mysteries include cozies, capers, satires, and humorous books; in short, anything from laugh-out-loud books to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with minimal overt violence or gore. We’re not looking for books with gravitas that make us think; we’re looking for fun-read books that make us smile.

For more detailed info on how to submit your book, visit http://www.bonyblithe.com/submissions.html or contact us at bw-award@bloodywords.com.

 

 

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BIG NEWS: 13 CLAWS SHORT STORY CONTEST!

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The Mesdames of Mayhem are delighted to announce a crime fiction short story contest for Canadian writers previously unpublished in the genre. The winning story will be included in our third anthology, 13 Claws, to be published in 2017.

Many of the Mesdames teach creative writing. We also give many talks about the how-to’s of writing crime fiction. We love meeting readers – and often our readers are writers, too. Our contest is our way of encouraging new writers.

Judging of the submitted stories will be done blind by a committee. All personal identifiers must be removed from the header, footer and body of the story submission.

The detailed rules of submission are below. They will also be on a page on this website. Do check back regularly for updates.

Please contact mcallway1@gmail.com for all questions related to this contest.

Rules of Submission:

  1. The story must be about a crime, either solving it or trying to prevent it from happening.
  2. An animal must be central to the story. Any animal is allowed: for example, a cat, dog, rabbit, bear, snake, even a dragon or other mythical beast. The writer’s imagination is the only limit. The animal must be a main character or pivotal to the plot. In other words, if the animal was taken out, there would be no story.
  3. Writers must not have had a work of prose crime fiction published (i.e. short story, novella or novel) in either print or electronic form. Writers whose stories appear on their own personal blog(s) and writers who have had poetry or non-fiction newspaper or magazine articles or non-fiction books about crime are allowed to submit a story for this contest.
  4. Writers must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in Canada.
  5. The story length should be between 2000 and 5000 words.
  6. A maximum of two submissions per writer
  7. Formatting requirements:
    1. No personal identifiers anywhere in the header, footer or body of the story
    2. Include the story title and page number in the document header
    3. Story file in .rtf format, double-spaced, Times New Roman (12 point) or similar, 1” margins and please, no unusual formatting.
  8. Each submission must include a title page with the story title, name of the author and the word count of the story.
  9. Deadline for submission: March 15, 2017. All submissions must be electronic and sent to mcallway1@gmail.com.
  10. The contest judges reserve the right to name more than one winner. They also have the right to not declare a winner if none of the entries meet a standard suitable for publication in the anthology.
  11. The winning author(s) must be prepared to sign a contract with Carrick Publishing.
  12. Royalties will be shared equally between all contributors to the anthology after the publisher’s expenses are recovered and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Toronto Humane Society.
  13. GOOD LUCK! After all, thirteen is the Mesdames’ lucky number.
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Mesdames Salute Sisters in Crime

REMEMBERING OUR ROOTS

By Editor: Lynne Murphy

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In October of 1992 Bouchercon was held in Toronto for the first time. On the opening evening there was a dinner, hosted by Sisters in Crime International, and Sara Paretsky was the main speaker. Sara had helped found SinC a few years before, after women crime writers realized they were not getting the same amount of recognition as men.

The mandate of Sisters in Crime is to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.

Sara was so inspiring that a group of women met later during the conference and decided to form a branch of SinC in Toronto.

Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Sylvia Maultash Warsh

I had met  Mme.Sylvia Warsh at a Humber College writing workshop in the summer (Howard Engel was our prof). We met up again at Bouchercon and she and I were at  that first meeting as was Mme. Catherine Dunphy.

 

 

 

 

Sylvia and I and several other women decided to form a writing group at that meeting.  It is still going strong, 24 years later, with  the members drawn from SinC including  Mme. M. H. Callway,  who is  the  founder of the Mesdames.  M. H. CallwayAll the other members of our  writing group have stories in Thirteen and 13 O’clock.  You could say that the Mesdames of Mayhem have their roots in SinC.

We have contributed to the organization over the  years. Mme.Dunphy and I have both been presidents. Mesdames Joan O’Callaghan, Rosemary McCracken, Cheryl Freedman, and M. Ed Piwowarczyk have all served on the executive.

In turn, Sisters in Crime has contributed to the crime writing community. When Mme. Caro Soles was organizing the first Bloody Words conference, her committee was largely composed of SinC members. Many Toronto writers, both women and men,  benefit from the support they receive from their Sisters,  who buy books, attend launches and provide much appreciated word of mouth publicity.

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Lisa de Nikolits

Lisa de Nikolits

This year the Toronto Chapter  is publishing its third Whole She-Bang anthology. Mme. Lisa de Nikolits, M. Ed P. and I all  have stories included. Two book launches will be held, the first on Thursday, November 17th at the SinC regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Northern District Branch TPL, 40 Orchard View Blvd. The second will be at our favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street, 907 Millwood Rd., Toronto, on Sunday, November 27th, at 2:00 p.m. Please join us for one of these events, or, better still, both.

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